You are a house.
You live in this house; you move in this house; you exist in this house.
The foundation of your house is your belief system, and the bricks laid are thoughts that you allow inside your head.
Some houses are strong and large. Some are beautiful and always expanding. But others are unstable and crumbling or small and falling apart. Some have pristine yards, but others look like they might be in the jungle.
The entire structure of your life is built upon what you believe, so everything that’s happened to you has helped lay a foundation that determines the structure of your whole life. Bricks that are damaged, crumbling, or out of place compromise the entire house, just as my first memory [of abuse] compromised my entire belief system. The lie that I was unworthy, unlovable, tarnished, and dirty crippled me for years, even though it wasn’t remotely true. The structure of my house suffered the consequences until the lies were removed.
A lot of you have beautiful houses on the outside. This is normal in our appearance-obsessed culture. You work overtime to make sure the hedges are trimmed, the shutters are painted, and onlookers admire your immaculate appearance. You might even have a living room for entertaining or a deck for parties, where people can see just enough of the inside to think that everything is spotless, happy, and perfect. But heaven forbid your guests look in the basement. There are locks on secret vaults and forgotten dungeons inside your heart. You believe if you can keep up the perception of perfection, no one will see the shameful disasters inside.
You think that if the exterior of the house is shiny and new, constantly upgraded and improved, maybe the neighbors won’t notice the stench coming from the trash piling up inside. Maybe people walking by won’t be able to see the disaster zone that you’d rather not face and clean up. If you can just cover it up, why put in the sweat and tears to remove the junk?
I knew all about this way of living. It was the way I coped with pain for the majority of my life. If I could make my exterior as perfect as possible and win awards for how powerful and successful my house was, I hoped no one would ever have to see the filthy interior, with its shameful rooms, black holes, and secretive garbage. In fact, keeping myself preoccupied with the appearance of my house was an attempt to try to make up for all the problems inside. I prayed that if I just kept applying a new coat of paint, no one would find out that the plumbing was shot and that termites were eating me alive.
The problem with this approach to life is that the house of your heart can never be a home. If you have rooms inside your heart that you are ashamed of or embarrassed by or that you simply want to avoid, then you will never fully be at rest within yourself and the home of your soul. You’ll never know the peace of true contentment – the deep sighs that release life.
One of the most important things I’ve ever done, and that you could ever do, is to begin to replace the lies, represented by the faulty bricks, one by one, with the real truth. You might have to face ugly monsters that you’ve fought to ignore. You might have to clean out dirty black rooms that you’ve been petrified to remember, but your house will never be free and whole until you do.
It’s time to barge into every corridor in the house of your heart and find out if what you’re allowing to live under your roof deserves to live there. You’re the only landlord you’re ever going to have. You’re the only one who can kick out unwanted squatters. You’re the only one who can give the green light to repaint, remodel, and restore. And your heart is the only home you’re ever going to have any real control over.
Taking on the project of heart renovation isn’t an easy task. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work. But I promise, being at peace and at rest inside your heart is worth the work. It changes everything about everything.
And it starts in the place you know all too well. Your head.
Christa Black joins James and Betty Robison this Monday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from GOD LOVES UGLY: & love makes beautiful by Christa Black. Copyright @2012 by Christa Black. Reprinted by permission of FaithWords/Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.